Do Seagulls Migrate? A Comprehensive Guide

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One of the most well-known birds in the world is the seagull. Though often referred to as “seagulls,” seagulls are only gulls; the word “seagull” is purely colloquial. All continents, including Antarctica and the High Arctic, are home to seagulls, which also nest there. But do they migrate?

Numerous gull species exhibit substantial migratory behavior, with some making annual journeys of hundreds of kilometers to winter in regions of the globe that are noticeably warmer than their summer breeding sites. This does vary, however, since many gull species either migrate very little or not at all, often only flying inland short distances from the coast during the winter.

Gulls come in 54 distinct species, and each one migrates in a unique way. But gulls are generally good migratory. Franklin’s gull, which travels all the way from Canada as far south as Argentina, is one such bird!

Despite often being stereotyped as rodents or excessively hostile birds, seagulls are really very fascinating and clever creatures. Continue reading to learn more about gull migration patterns and motions!

Do seagulls travel in flocks?

Certain gulls are more prone to migrate than others when they are found in northern latitudes. The lack of food and the cold are the primary drivers of migration. Therefore, gulls that are found in the Southern Hemisphere or near the equator have a lower likelihood of migrating.

The Black-backed gull, which is found over much of Northern Europe, and the Franklin’s gull, which is found in North America and Canada, are two instances of migratory gulls. The Belcher’s gull, which is found across much of South America, and the Lava gull, which is the rarest bird in the world and only found in the Galapagos, are two instances of non-migratory gulls.

Other gulls, such as the European Herring and Caspian gulls, may or may not migrate; others may decide to stay in their host nations or move just within their home range during the winter months.

When do gulls go south?

When the summer breeding season ends in the winter, gulls that migrate will do so. This might happen as late as November and December, or as early as late August.

For example, the Black-backed gull spends most of the summer months in Central and Northern Europe, with a few stopping around in most of North Africa, Spain, Portugal, and the Mediterranean before heading off for West Africa in August and September.

Similar circumstances exist in North America and Canada when Franklin’s gulls normally go in November and December and return in March from their nesting areas.

Seagulls migrate where?

The majority of North American gulls migrate to South America, whereas the majority of European gulls move to Africa or the Middle East. Seagulls are migratory over much of the planet. Siberian gulls and Greater Black-Headed gulls, two other more easterly gulls, travel to India and much of South Asia.

Spread out throughout northern latitudes, gulls may fly up to 6,000 kilometers to reach their wintering habitats.

Gulls often migrate inland when they don’t go as far. Many species of coastal gulls migrate inland in the UK and North America over the winter instead of across greater distances.

In winter, where do seagulls go?

Instead of completely migrating, seagulls travel inwards during the winter and often roost close to lakes, rivers, reservoirs, agricultural fields, and trash heaps. In addition to being well acclimated to urban settings, gulls are also observed to be breeding further inland than in the past.

When gulls migrate, they usually go as far as necessary in search of food and a warmer place to rest. This might carry some gull species that are further northerly all the way to West Africa and South America. Gulls have erratic migratory tendencies; many of them make pit stops along the route rather than covering the whole distance.

Do gulls go farther inland?

Saying that gulls migrate inland could be stretching it given that they can go inland at any time of year and that their migration doesn’t cover the same distance as real migratory gulls, which can travel up to 6,000 miles.

Nevertheless, during the winter, gulls have been observed to go inland in search of roosts that are warmer and less windy than those found in their usual coastal homes. When gulls detect unfavorable weather or approaching storms, they have also been observed to migrate inland.

Do flocks of seagulls move together?

When gulls migrate, they usually do so in big groups—thousands or many thousands of birds at a time. Gulls, like many other migrating birds and long-distance travelers, often arrange themselves in a “V” shape to aid in navigation and save energy.

Individual gulls have been reported to travel great distances—up to 7,500 miles—during migratory studies. Rather of having permanent winter roosts, various groups of gulls choose to stop at different areas. Gulls, for instance, often make stops in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Central Asia on route from Europe to West Africa and South Asia.

How do seagulls migrate?

Ornithologists have long been fascinated by the question of how and why birds migrate, as well as how they know where they’re going.

As we now know, birds utilize a variety of strategies to decide when and which way to migrate, but for many, the process starts with the release of hormones that stimulate migration. In addition, there are environmental signals, such as the diminishing food availability and, of course, the temperature decline.

Certain gulls, such as the Black-Headed gull, have been shown to utilize their sense of smell to determine their exact location, making their migratory behaviors quite intriguing (yes, birds do have a sense of smell!). They pause at their roosting locations in Western Africa before heading back to the lakes they left behind because they can really smell where they are.

In the UK, do seagulls migrate?

Certain gull species, like the Black-Headed gull, migrate from the UK to the Middle East and Africa across most of southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The common gull may or may not migrate; some birds choose to spend the winter inside.

As its name implies, the Mediterranean gull that breeds in the United Kingdom migrates to the Mediterranean during the winter!

Some gulls are immigrants rather than migratory; they spend the winter in the United Kingdom. This wintering population of gulls may include the Iceland and Glaucous gulls, which are two examples.

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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